India’s biggest event for overseas Indians—the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas—was held at Gandhinagar between January 7 and 9, 2015. It was well-attended, and in terms of registered delegates from overseas, this happened to be the most successful PBD. The inaugural session at the main auditorium of Mahatma Mandir that was addressed by Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi was a complete sellout, showing that Indians from world over were enthused by the PM’s idea of a new India that has the potential to become the world’s talking point for what it is going to do in the coming weeks and months, and not for what it has been unable to do in the past.
Mr Modi spoke about projects close to his heart—the Namaami Gange project to clean River Ganga topping his agenda. He said that by focusing on this one project alone, nearly 40 per cent of India’s population would be directly benefited, and the country would undergo a sea change in terms of economic activity, tourism and global investor interest.
The Pravasi was followed by the visit of US President Barack Obama to India as chief guest at India’s Republic Day. It was time for the new NDA Government to rebuild relations with the USA. According to observers, the hug shared by President Obama and PM Modi in many ways symbolized the new-found Indo-US friendship. The souring that had happened over denial of visa to Mr Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat seemed a thing of the past. Both he and President Obama were occasionally on first name basis, and the Mann Ki Baat programme over radio (the radio commentary was televised as well) that they both participated in struck a chord with millions of listeners across India. The hugs and first-name addresses were indeed a refreshing break from the stiff protocol that is customary when top world leaders meet. It is also to be noted that recently Indian Americans have taken up very significant positions in Government and in industry in the USA, another indicator of how Mr Obama values Indian potential. His trip was also a perfect example of positive foreign policy and described by a top journalist as “strategically important, symbolically resonant and deftly executed”.
US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, 33, a combat veteran and the first Hindu member of the US House of Representatives who visited India between December 16, 2014 and January 3 observed that relationships between India and the US were energized after Prime Minister Modi's visit to the USA. Going forward, she wanted both Governments to work closely on countering terrorism, including cyber terrorism.
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